- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - One of John Kitzhaber’s concerns days after he returned to office in 2011 was money for Cylvia Hayes, according to a newly released email.

Kitzhaber was a month into his third term as governor and facing a Legislature in session when he wrote to his future fiancée about finances. He told her he would do what he could to arrange funding for her work, including writing letters to foundations on her behalf.

Hayes’ struggles apparently were so disruptive for the couple that Kitzhaber wrote in his Feb. 21, 2011, email: “I doubt if I would have run again if I knew you would be going through this.”

Disclosure of the email adds important context to the scandal that drove Kitzhaber from office. Unrelenting questions about the ethics of Hayes’ outside income from foundations with an interest in state policy compelled him to resign last February.

Kitzhaber listed some of her consulting work on his annual ethics statement but didn’t list her fellowship the year it paid her $88,000. Hayes released federal income tax returns that don’t appear to include all of that income. She has never addressed the discrepancy.

Before he left office, Kitzhaber insisted that he and his staff kept Hayes’ outside consulting work distinct from her service as unpaid first lady. But the line was blurred enough to trigger a federal criminal investigation that is still underway.

FBI and IRS agents and federal prosecutors are considering whether Kitzhaber and Hayes conspired to peddle influence in the Capitol. Hayes received at least $213,000 from interest groups and foundations while acting as first lady.

Hayes through her attorney wouldn’t answer questions, but in a blog post referenced on her Facebook page Thursday, Hayes wrote that “I am cooperating with federal investigators and providing them all information required.” That includes turning over “every email they have asked for,” she wrote.

Kitzhaber’s “Dear Cylvia” email was released recently to The Oregonian/OregonLive under court order. Hayes for months fought disclosure of emails relating to government business that she sent as first lady from her personal accounts. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum last February ordered Hayes to release such emails to The Oregonian/OregonLive and Hayes subsequently sought court protection to keep them private.

One judge reviewing Hayes’ emails recently concluded the message of Feb. 21, 2011, was among hundreds that should be public. Hayes still wanted that message kept secret but a second judge last week ordered her to release it.

In the 2011 email, Kitzhaber urged Hayes to focus on long-term funding for “clean economy” projects. Hayes had worked for nearly 15 years on environmental issues and was operating her own consulting firm in Bend but when Kitzhaber became governor she announced she would no longer contract with private companies.

The transition wasn’t easy for her, according to Kitzhaber’s email.

“Everything you are feeling right now is legitimate: the concern about where the early funding is going to come from; the distaste to be fundraising again for your job; the sense of isolation; the feeling that you and I are not saving the world together,” Kitzhaber wrote in the Monday evening email.

He vowed to help.

“I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that the bridge funding comes through and will use my own resources if necessary,” Kitzhaber wrote.

The reference to “bridge funding” isn’t explained and attorneys for Kitzhaber and Hayes didn’t address written questions about that point or other issues raised by the email.

But in February 2011, though, Hayes had just started a job with a Eugene nonprofit, Rural Development Initiatives. She was hired as a program director to support a West Coast approach to clean economy issues. That required $800,000 in new funds over three years, according to a description of the West Coast Clean Economy Collaborative that Hayes provided that month to Kitzhaber’s chief of staff for review.

Craig Smith, executive director of the nonprofit, said earlier this year that Hayes was paid from “unrestricted net assets.” On Wednesday, Smith said in an email message he wouldn’t answer questions from The Oregonian/OregonLive.

In his 2011 email, Kitzhaber urged Hayes to “lean into the WORK over this next month and concentrate on the foundation front” for “longer term funding.” The governor said he could help.

“I believe that I can send support letters to foundations,” he wrote. It’s unknown whether he did.

The nonprofit reported that Hayes left her job after five months when none of the projected funding materialized.

The email showed Kitzhaber’s intent to merge Hayes’ outside environmental work with his agenda as governor. He sent her a plan for unifying state efforts behind early childhood development as a “good template” that “can offer a roadmap for the work (our work) we can pick up once I get the budget balanced,” he wrote.

He said he envisioned her work on regional clean economy efforts “converging with the education/social service transformation I am counting on.”

Kitzhaber subsequently appointed Hayes to a state task force that devised a 10-year energy plan. She helped author the plan.

He also ensured she had state office space “to get you out of that big house,” an apparent reference to Mahonia Hall, the publicly-owned governor’s residence.

He ended with words of a lover.

“You are so important to me and who you are and what you are trying to do is equally important,” he wrote. “I want you to succeed not just because I love you so much, but because of the huge contribution you have made and will continue to make to our world.”


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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